Foto: Oxfam

From Mine to Market

Journey of ASM Women Miners in Kenya

The Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Sector (ASM) employs nearly 45 million people globally, and indirectly around 150 million. This sector has been one of the worst hit since the onset of the pandemic. Mines have closed indefinitely. Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is on the rise. Mine supply chains are being disrupted.

Mining: a male dominated sector

In Kenya, ASM sector employs over 10000 workers, majorly informal and majority of them being women. The mining sector has immense potential to be a core driver of Kenya’s economic revival in the post-COVID-19 era. It would achieve a higher representation of women and gender-inclusive strategies within the sector and lead to safer work practices for women in mining, if correctly managed. However, as it currently stands, gender based violence and gender discrimination is rampant in the sector, which is traditionally male dominated.

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Fair share for women miners

Transparency International- Kenya (TI), Association of Women in Mining and Extractives in Kenya (AWEIK), The Dispatch Agencies and the Institute of Public Finance Kenya (IPFK) are working on the ASM gemstones and gold mining value chains in Kenya to ensure women from grassroots communities get a fair share of the revenues from the sector. Under the FAIR4ALL PVP grant, they are jointly working with ASM women miners in Turkana, Taita-Taveta and Kwale counties to ensure the mine to market journey for these women results in a fair share of what they mine.

In February, AWEIK and TI alongside Oxfam in Kenya visited Kuranze, in Kwale. Here they will work, over the next four years, with Sabula ASM Miners Group. This is a group of 26 women, representing over 7 different tribes of Kenya, coexisting and mining gemstones, especially tourmaline. This formally registered group has a mining license. However, lack the basic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safety gear required to operate in a mine site. They are a representation of just one of the many informal ASM miners groups that TI-K, AWEIK and IPFK aim to empower, formally register and build capacity over the duration of the programme.

“Celebrating the strides these women make in the ASM sector is equally important; they are the backbone of the sector.” Said Cabinet Secretary for Energy – H.E. Amb Dr. Monica Juma. She greatly appreciated and lauded the presence of grassroots miners from the 3 counties during the Pioneer Women in Energy and Extractives Awards in Africa (PWEA). It was organized by AWEIK to celebrate the contributions made by women across the African continent.

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Desired impact

The desired impact of the partners under the FAIR for ALL programme is to jointly work together to ensure the mine-to-market journey of these ASM miners will holistically improve. And that they will be able to sell their gemstones and gold at international markets, while also contributing to their county revenues fairly. The FAIR for ALL partners will achieve this impact with training on safeguarding, SGBV, Occupational Safety, Health and Environment (OSHE) and safe mining, financial literacy programmes, county budget making cycles and fair trade policy asks. In addition, they will develop a grievance mechanism system that can also function as a community feedback mechanism platform.

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